The Devil's Highway is a nonfiction work that follows a group of men from Veracruz, Mexico, to a desolate stretch of desert near Ajo, Arizona, far west of Tucson, Arizona, and far east of Yuma, California. The men become known as the Yuma 14 because there are fourteen men who die crossing this area, part of the Yuma Border Patrol area, one hot day in July. The climax comes when the whole group of twenty-six men and their shiftless coyote (guide), Mendez, begin to realize they are in serious danger. Because the narrative alternates between present and past, and follows Border Patrol agents, the coyote, and the Tucson coroner's office as well as the Yuma 14, the climax is difficult to pin down. As the narrative surrounding the demise of these men plays out, a chapter on the six stages of heat stroke provides context on how and why heat kills people. The chapter on heat stroke is not the narrative climax, but it does provide information to contextualize the men's deaths and therefore becomes intertwined with the story's climax. The deaths of these men in chapters 12 and 13 is the true climax of the story, but the sequence of events begins in chapter 10, when Mendez becomes desperate himself, tells the men he'll return, and abandons the group in what is an obvious attempt to save himself.